Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Bruce Nelson traveled to Wednesday to tour areas of the southern parts of the state devastated by drought and wildfires. Nelson said that USDA would continue to work to deliver assistance to those affected by drought and encouraged producers to contact their county or state USDA Service Center or Farm Service Agency office.
Nelson also highlighted an announcement made earlier this week that will offer additional flexibility in the Conservation Reserve Program to assist producers struggling from drought.
"Our top priority is to make sure that all farmers and ranchers know that we are here for them and that FSA provides programs to help them through one of the worst disasters in this state's history," said Nelson.
Nelson was escorted by Texas State Executive Director and acting Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs Juan Garcia.
"As a native Texan, I have experienced extremely high temperatures and relatively dry conditions, but never anything of this magnitude," Garcia said. "I have no doubt that with help Texas producers will bounce back and continue to be one of the driving forces in American agriculture."
In June, the drought — which has plagued the state since January — caused Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to name 213 counties in Texas as primary natural disaster areas. In an effort to further help producers, Vilsack relaxed rules governing the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) earlier this week by extending the emergency grazing period to Oct. 31, 2011, without an additional payment reduction.
Generally, land enrolled in CRP cannot be used for grazing unless special circumstances warrant the land to be opened for that purpose. Texas, along with Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, has been approved for emergency grazing.
So far this year, producers nationwide have received $693 million in indemnity payments to help recover from disasters, including more than $520 million to those affected by drought. Additional assistance for livestock producers affected by the drought comes from the Livestock Forage Program, which has already provided more than $50 million in Texas. This timely assistance helps ranchers purchase feed for their livestock when they need it most.
FSA administers several important programs that help producers recover from disaster damage and livestock deaths. Among the key programs available to address impacts from disasters are the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP); the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP); the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP); and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program.
USDA will continue to work with state and local officials, as well as federal partners to ensure that producers have the necessary resources to recover from these challenges.
Fact sheets for all FSA programs can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov; click on Newsroom, then Fact Sheets. To find the USDA Service Center nearest you, please visit http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=us&agency=fsa.
To learn more about USDA's disaster assistance, please visit www.usda.gov/disaster.